Officials with Agriculture Financial Services Corp. (AFSC) are urging Alberta farmers to consider hail insurance this year, following record crop damage in 2012.
The Crown corporation, which administers crop and hail insurance on behalf of the provincial government, said it paid out nearly $450 million on more than 11,000 claims last year.
“Last summer was the worst hail year we’ve ever seen,” said Brian Tainsh, AFSC’s manager of on-farm inspections, in a release. “There were only 11 hail-free days all summer, from early June to mid-September.”
Tainsh said claims were processed at every AFSC office in Alberta. The next highest hail year in Alberta occurred in 2008, when hail claims totalled more than $265 million, he added.
Dan Kulak, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the severity of hail storms can depend on the amount of moisture received prior to July.
“The wetter it is, the greater likelihood of hail.”
Kulak added that heat, surface moisture or humidity, and a “trigger” are the components required for hail.
“The sun is often the day-to-day trigger. It shines on the mountains, warming up the air, which then rises and often produces storms that move eastward from the foothills. If that warm air collides with cooler air moving in from the mountains, the storms can be intense.”
Straight hail insurance can be purchased any time during the growing season at AFSC offices and online. It takes effect at noon the day after it’s purchased.